The sights and sounds of the Mexican-American Border come to life in Border Cantos | Sonic Border exhibition at the Figge Art Museum

Artist: Richard Misrach, born 1949 Wall, Los Indios, Texas, 2015, printed 2017 From an edition of 5 Pigment print 58 1/2 × 78 1/4 in. (148.6 × 198.8 cm) Framed: 61 1/8 × 80 3/4 × 2 1/8 in. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas Photo: Courtesy the Artist

For most Quad Citians, the Mexican-American border region is  shown to us through the lens of the media. The first-hand experience of the migrants seeking a better life often go unknown, unacknowledged, or unconsidered.  

The Figge Art Museum is presenting an exhibition of work inspired by the Mexican-American border  region that humanizes the border and the depictions in our minds. Border Cantos | Sonic Border brings  together the sights and sounds of the border through a transformative and multi-sensory experience  created by photographer Richard Misrach and composer/artist Guillermo Galindo invites us to bridge  boundaries and initiate important conversations. 

Misrach’s large-scale photographs beautifully capture the various types of landscapes, textures, and  experiences found across the almost 2,000-mile dividing line that brings us face-to-face with the reality of  the region.  


Galindo’s Sonic Borders installation is an original score for eight instruments, created out of discarded  objects found and collected at the border. The composition embraces the pre-Columbian belief that there  was an intimate connection between an instrument and the material from which it was made, with no  separation between spiritual and physical worlds. Based on the Mesoamerican “Venus calendar,” Sonic  Borders plays for a total of 260 minutes and will play in the gallery space for all visitors to experience.  

“It is so important for the Quad Cities to have an opportunity to experience this exhibition,” said Figge  Executive Director and CEO Michelle Hargrave. “Art surrounding the Mexican-American border is more  relevant than ever and this body of work compels us to put ourselves in the shoes of these migrants so  we can attempt to envision their collective journeys in the hopes of more understanding and compassion  for their plight.” 

Artist: Richard Misrach, born 1949
Agua #1, near Calexico, California, 2004, printed 2017
From an edition of 5
Pigment print
60 × 72 in. (152.4 × 182.9 cm)
Framed: 61 1/8 × 76 5/8 × 2 1/8 in.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas
Photo: Courtesy the Artist

Misrach and Galindo began collaborating in 2011 when they discovered they were both creating bodies of  work inspired by the border. The two artists came together to show moments of disruption on the land  and the difficult work of policing the boundary.  


When experienced as a whole, the images, instruments, and emanating sounds of this exhibition create  an immersive space in which to look, listen, and learn about the complicated issues surrounding the  Mexican-American border. While the artists do not seek to provide solutions to these issues, they do  provide insight into a place where most people have never ventured, creating a poignant connection that  draws on our humanity.  

“This exhibition represents an extraordinary collaboration, and we are pleased to be able to share it with  the Quad Cities community, said Director of Collections and Exhibitions Andrew Wallace. “We were lucky  to include several key works by Richard Misrach in our recent Magnetic West exhibition, and Border  Cantos will highlight the importance of the photographer’s career dedicated to surveying the American  West. Guillermo Galindo’s sonic sculptures enhance the experience by humanizing the geopolitical  boundary so frequently in the news.” 

Visitors will be invited to share their stories of movement or migration on a map located in the Figge’s  Learn to Look Gallery adjacent the exhibition; public programming will provide opportunities to meet the  artists and discuss their work in dialogue with the community. 


The Figge’s Director of Education, Melissa Mohr, is looking forward to several interactive public programs  accompanying the exhibition. “We want to provide a visitor experience that emphasizes what we have in  common,” Mohr says.  

“We will be collecting messages of kindness from community members and printing them on foam bricks  that will be used to build wall structure. Community members will be invited to take out the bricks, read  them, and keep them as a connection to the exhibition and to the museum – a connection that is  hopefully personally meaningful. It is a way for the community to work together to dismantle a wall that  divides us and focus on the messages that unite us.” 

Artist: Richard Misrach, born 1949
Wall, Jacumba, California, 2009
El muro, Jacumba, California
Pigment print
60 × 80 in. (152.4 × 203.2 cm)
Framed: 61 × 81 × 2 in.
Photo: Courtesy the Artist

Organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Border Cantos | Sonic Border will be on view  through June 5, 2022, in the Figge’s second-floor Katz Gallery.  

Companion Programs:  

Opening Program: Border Cantos | Sonic Border with artist Guillermo Galindo Thursday, February 17, 6:30 p.m. 

Join artist Guillermo Galindo for a performance and talk in conjunction with the opening of Border  Cantos | Sonic Border. Space is limited and registration is required. 

Virtual Artist Talk: Border Cantos | Sonic Border with artist Richard Misrach Thursday, March 25 

Artist Richard Misrach, one of the most influential photographers of his generation, will give a virtual talk  about his work that is featured in Border Cantos | Sonic Borders. Registrants will receive an email two  hours prior to the start of the event with a link to the Zoom event. 


Free Family Day – Live on the Figge Plaza 

Sunday, May 1, Noon-5 p.m.  

Join us for a day of family fun related to Border Cantos | Sonic Borders on the Figge’s Bechtel Plaza. 

About the Figge Art Museum

The Figge Art Museum is dedicated to bringing art and people together. Located on the Mississippi River  in downtown Davenport at 225 West Second Street, the Figge is the premier art exhibition and education facility between Chicago and Des Moines. Its landmark glass building, designed by British architect David  Chipperfield, is home to one of the Midwest’s finest art collections and presents world-class exhibitions,  art classes, lectures, and special events that attract visitors of all ages. Museum hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m.  Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Thursdays; and 12-5 p.m. on Sundays.  Reservations are not required, but can be made at or by calling 563-345-6632.  Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, $6 for seniors and students with ID and $4 children ages 4- 12. Admission is free to Figge members and institutional members and to all on Thursday evenings. You  can become a member for as little as $50 by visiting the Figge website. To contact the museum, please  call 563.326.7804, or visit  

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